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News | May 29, 2020

The IT factor

Returning home from a 400-day deployment battling global cyber threats, the New Hampshire National Guard’s newest detachment found itself on the frontlines of a different kind of fight.

Shortly after redeploying from Fort Meade, the citizen-soldiers of Detachment 1, 136th Cyber Support Company were at it again, helping the state’s Department of Information Technology monitor a massive upswing in computer usage by state employees teleworking in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Supporting our state is a little different than supporting the federal mission,” said Sgt. Brandee Peterson, an IT specialist with the 136th. “The mobilization was a great experience for me. I was working with people from all over the country with different levels of knowledge. (But) the stateside mission hits home.”

Peterson is one of nine soldiers from the detachment, along with six airmen from the 157th Air Refueling Wing Cyber Operations, who are currently activated for COVID-19 relief efforts. The guardsmen are working alongside DOIT specialists whose network hosts 40 different agencies. That equates to more than 13,000 end-users and 45,000-50,000 devices.

“I think the best thing about our cyber team is the different levels of knowledge and the wide spread of knowledge,” Peterson said. “We have a lot of amazing and very intelligent people.”

They’ve been a welcome asset to DOIT.

“They have picked up our tools pretty easily and have showed us new security software,” said Gerry Wallace, a technical support specialist with DOIT. “The guardsmen have worked very hard. It’s been a great experience.”

The sudden and necessary partnership between DOIT and the NHNG has been mutually beneficial, but not unprecedented. For the past five years, NHNG’s cyber contingent has participated in a regional exercise alongside its state partners called Cyber Yankee.

“Building on relationships over several iterations of the annual exercise, our soldiers and airmen have been able to seamlessly integrate with DOIT employees,” said Maj. Darrell Walker, the cyber team’s senior officer. “With the guard supporting the state mission, it has advanced our systems dramatically.”

The cyber team is scheduled to complete its COVID-19 relief mission June 2.